Chalk paint is one of the easiest ways to revive vintage furniture, as it produces a beautiful matte finish which can be easily distressed. Painting your home furniture can be a daunting task, especially if you’re a beginner. We’re here to help you find the best chalk paint for upcycling, depending on your requirements. We’re going to take a look into why people choose to use chalk paint? How to use it, and the best chalk paint for furniture.
If you’ve been upcycling for a while, or been searching on Pinterest/ Instagram for a beautiful and unique piece of furniture, chances are you will have come across Annie Sloan, or chalk paint.
Annie Sloan developed chalk paint as a solution to other furniture paints which require lots of priming and prepping. Annie Sloan created the beautiful chalk paint and has trademarked it, but that hasn’t stopped other companies making copy-cat versions.
Why use Chalk Paint for Furniture?
No Time Spent Prepping
When applying chalk paint to the majority of materials, there is no need for sanding or priming. This makes it not only a time-saver but a penny saver too!
For a Beautiful Finish
One distinguishable character of chalk paint is its striking color, with a matte finish. Your furniture and decor are left with a soft, chalky appearance whether applied on wood, metal, ceramic, glass or many more.
To Build Colors
The final benefit of working with chalk paint is that colors can be combined and mixed without creating a murky color. This allows you to create the perfect hue for what you’re creating.
Best Chalk-Style Paint for Furniture
Country Chic Chalk Style Paint
Country Chic has formulated a chalk-style paint for furniture use, but it can also be used for other craft projects. It’s got amazing adhesion to several different surfaces and can guarantee a long-lasting finish.
The coverage is good and requires no prep work as the primer and topcoat are built into the product. As with other chalk paints, it is advised that you finish off with wax, for optimal durability. If you’re using your chalk paint on bathroom furniture, it would be a good idea to use a Clear Coat or Tough Coat as there will be more moisture in the air.
Another amazing aspect of chalk-style paint is that it dries very quickly, this particular paint dries in 30 minutes. If you’re looking for a distressed effect, you can use this paint before waxing.
Country Chic chalk paint has low odour, but it’s still recommended that you apply the paint outdoors to reduce the intake of fumes. It’s 100% VOC-free and contains no harsh chemicals. This is one of the best chalk paints for upcycling as it’s great for beginners, has a beautiful finish and is available in over 35 stunning colors.
The Spruce Best Home
This chalky finish paint is ultra-matte and great for upcycling furniture, it can be applied to wood, cast stone, concrete, glass, metal and wicker. The variety of colors for this particular paint isn’t as vast as others, but they’re beautifully soft, yet striking tones.
The paint comes in 16 colors including neutrals and bright accent shades. It will only require one coat if you’re seeking a distressed, vintage look, or 2 coats if you want the piece to be bright and bold. This particular chalk-style paint is extremely pigmented, meaning a little product goes a long way.
As with all of the products in our review, this product should be covered with wax after you’ve applied your chosen number of coats. The price of this paint is great, considering it covers 60-100 square ft. and has amazing coverage.
The paint is water-based and has low VOC.
Jolie Paint Premier Chalk Finish Paint
Another chalk-style paint which comes in very well-reviewed is produced by Jolie Paint. Jolie home has been in the business of design and DIY products for 10 years and is masters of the craft.
They’ve manufactured a premier chalky paint with an extensive color list. This one stands out from other paints due to its range of neutral colors. We’re particularly in love with the greens like Sage, and French Quarter, it’s not always easy to find these shades of green.
The price for these paints is slightly on the higher end, but you get what you pay for in this instance. It’s got great coverage, a 32oz quart covers 150 square ft, and you only need 1 or 2 coats depending on the look you’re going for.
Like other chalk paint, it dries super fast (30 minutes) and doesn’t require any preparation, but will benefit from a lovely wax on top to seal the paint. Similar to Annie Sloan chalk paint and others on the market, you can mix these paints to create your own unique color.
Chalky Chics Chalk Finish Paint
Here is another example of an affordable chalk-style paint for furniture, it’s extremely versatile and can be used on glass, wood, laminate, metal, brick AND MORE.
The quality of the paint is great and it has good coverage in 1 or 2 coats, it’s a ‘ ready-to-use’ formula so no need to add anything else to it, or dilute it in any way. One way that this paint stands out from others in the review, is how it can be poured into a paint sprayer with a 2.5mm tip, and sprayed onto your furniture. This is an effective way to apply chalk paint (we go into more detail of spraying chalk paint below).
There are over 40 different colors to choose from, so you’ll be spoilt for choice! The paint has a very low VOC and is kid and indoor friendly, however, we always recommend applying paint outdoors if just to keep your floor safe! It’s available in either 16oz or 32oz and 1qt will cover up to 150 square feet, depending on how much coverage you require.
If you’re using this to paint over metal, ensure the surface is clean before painting otherwise the durability will be compromised, you should also seal it with wax as normal. Chalky Chalk does an excellent range of chalk brushes for painting furniture as well, so it’s worth a look if you haven’t already got some.
Retique it - Renaissance Chalk Finish Furniture Paint
A very popular chalk-style paint for furniture comes from Retique It and is available in 30 different colors. The chalk paint colors used by the brand are unique, in that they’ve created very vibrant reds, greens and blues unlike others seen on the shelf. A lot of other chalk paint can be soft, muted tones but these are extremely striking and great if you’re looking to make a bold statement.
The paints are available in either 16 oz, 30 oz, 128 oz or as a deluxe starter kit. The deluxe starter kit includes everything you would need for your project including the chalk paint color of choice, a high quality 2” paintbrush, 13 oz clear wax, 4 oz dark wax, 1.5” wax brush, 1” chip brush, gloves and a wax cloth. This will set you back a little money but if you’re new to chalk paint, or upcycling in general, this is an excellent deal with quality products.
The paint itself has a gorgeous consistency which glides onto materials smoothly, while also having great coverage. The paint comes very well-reviewed when being used as chalk paint for kitchen cabinets, and there are some wonderful before and after shots!
The paint doesn’t require a primer when used on the majority of surfaces, however, if you’re using it for something like cabinets, it is recommended. Kitchen cabinets go through heavy wear and tear, get wet often and are a focal point of the home. This is why it’s a good idea to take full precaution when using chalk paint on kitchen furniture.
KILZ Interior Chalk Style Paint for Furniture
Here is an extremely exciting chalk paint for upcycling. Depending on what you’re using it for, it comes in either a tin or as a spray chalk paint! It’s available in 13 beautiful, neutral and soft colors including blue juniper, smokey eyes and toasted poppy seed.
The paint is ultra-matte and great for indoor furniture, requiring little to no preparation. When applying the paint it has a thick consistency which provides excellent coverage, however, can be watered down easily if you’re looking for a lighter viscosity. The paint can also be distressed using a sanding cloth to give off a vintage look, you can even layer colors to reveal a different shade underneath.
If you decide to use the spray can ensure you give it a good shake before application, this dries to the touch in 60 minutes and it’s recommended that you do 2 coats, for optimal coverage.
KILZ interior chalk-style paint can be mixed with water to thin the consistency, and you can mix and match colors such as add white or black, to lighten or darken the tones. They have also manufactured paint with very little odour, low spatter and rapid drying time.
Rust-Oleum Ultra Matte Interior Chalked Paint
A very popular choice and one of the best chalk paint for furniture is by Rust’Oleum. They’ve created a low-odour, latex formula which means it’s easy to clean up (with soap and water) and has excellent adhesion. Unlike other chalk paints in the review, this one dries in less than 30-minutes, meaning the whole process is quick and easy.
There aren’t as many color options as other chalk paints in this review, but they have a great choice of standard colors which have a quality finish. If you’re looking for a PURE white, which can be difficult to find online, then this chalk paint is perfect.
Rust-oleum chalk paint isn’t excessively thick which is a bonus – If you’ve upcycled using paint before you’ll know it can sometimes look gloopy when applied to certain materials, this one has a lovely thin application yet has great coverage.
It is only available in a 30oz tin, which may be too big for smaller projects like mirrors, jars or photo frames.
Rust-Oleum Spray Chalked Paint
If you like the look of Rust-Oleum chalked paint, then here is another amazing option. An alternative way to upcycle using chalk paint is using a spray can. Spray chalk paint has loads of benefits, firstly it’s much cheaper than buying a paint pot, plus you don’t have to spend money on a brush. It’s also much quicker than applying chalk paint by hand and dries to the touch.
If you’re looking to upcycle a piece of furniture quickly and cheaply, we recommend using spray-on chalk paint.
This Rust-Oleum chalk paint comes very well-reviewed and can be used on glass, wood, metal and plastics. It’s available in several warm, soft colours and has great coverage, one spray paint canister will cover 2 wooden chairs, or up to 5 picture frames.
The paint can be sanded once it’s dried, to provide an effective distressed and vintage look. It’s manufactured using an oil-based formula and has excellent adhesion, easy application and minimal preparation.
As with other chalk paints, this dries to a completely matte, soft finish and is available in 5 different colors. If you’re upcycling an item that will go through some wear and tear, t’s recommended that you purchase a primer before applying the chalk paint.
And just like with any chalk paint product, a topcoat or wax to seal the color.
How to Paint Furniture with Chalk Paint
Clean & Prep
As we’ve established (many times), the beauty of chalk paint is the fact that it takes very little prep. That said, it’s always beneficial to clean the surface before painting, this ensures a smoother application and enhanced durability.
Remove any hardware and wipe the surface with soap and water, leave it to dry before applying the chalk-style paint.
The only time that we would suggest sanding the material, is if the wood/ metal has had numerous coats of paint previously. This can lead to two impurities – firstly, if there are layers of chipped paint you will just be adding another layer and you’ll still be able to see the uneven surface.
Secondly, if there are too many layers of paint sometimes, the decorative features of the piece will be lost.
Remove Handles/ Tape
This is self-explanatory but ESSENTIAL. Use tape to cover any areas that you’re not wanting paint applied and remove any handles. These can be put back on when the paint is dry.
Make sure the surface is dry and paint onto the desired surface, use a high-quality brush and follow the wood pattern or on other surfaces try to paint in a singular direction.
If you’re applying a second coat, wait until the first one is completely dry.
Ensure that the paint is completely dry, we find it’s best to leave the product overnight (even if the chalk paint has a 30-minute dry time. If the paint is 100% dry it will start to wear off when you rub the wax, this will ruin all of your hard work.
When applying the wax it will have a natural matte finish, apply it with a rag in small sections and ensure you’re not leaving excess behind. Some wax for chalk paint will take a few weeks to fully cure into the wood, so it may look different to when you first finish applying it.
You can also choose a colored wax, these provide extra character and depth to your chalk paint.
What’s the Difference Between Oil-based and Water-based Paint, latex-based?
When discussing how paint is ‘based’, this refers to the type of solvent used in the paint, this is the liquid that evaporates as the paint dries.
Oil-based paint usually has a higher sheen level, which can dull and yellow over time. The paint tends to be very durable, yet can crack on flexible materials. Oil-based paints are usually slower to apply and have a thicker, sticker consistency, they can also have high VOCs.
Latex-based paint uses glycols or glycol ethers as a solvent and does not contain latex from the rubber plant. They have a lower VOC level and are easier to clean up than oil-based paint. They also do not yellow or dull over time, are resistant to flaking and have a flexible nature. However, latex-based paint can swell on grains of wood, making sanding a necessity.
Water-based paint has a lower sheen level and keeps this appearance over a long period. The chalk-style paint can expand and contract with weather conditions, and have good protection against UV. This makes water-based paint excellent for outdoor furniture as they’re less susceptible to cracking.
A Beginners Guide to Using Chalk Style Paint
Here is a great video showing how to apply chalk paint for beginners. The video exemplifies how easy it is to apply chalk paint, using short but fast brush strokes in a singular direction. This is then finished off with a simple wax and the project is completed.
Thank you for reading our review of the best chalk paint for furniture. We have tried to cover a variety of different styles of chalk paint, showing the positives and negatives of each, so you can find the perfect paint for your project.
A Round-up: The Best Chalk Paint for Furniture
We love the Retique it – Renaissance Chalk Finish Furniture Paint, and recommend the Deluxe starter kit for anyone new to upcycling. The paint is beautiful and it comes with everything you need to get started.
If you have any questions about chalk-style paint, upcycling or any recommendations for our readers please leave us a comment below.
Thanks again, and happy upcycling!